Wúzhōu (Cángwú)

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This photo of Wuzhou on the Gui River, nestled behing its levies, was taken from the narrow 16 meter long sanpan that brought me to Wuzhou on a two day trip down the Lijiang-Guijiang River from Yangshuo..

Wuzhou is very old and interesting city, not often visited today by tourists, or anyone else for that matter, but it is a jewel of a river town redolent with historical overtones. Its old name was Cangwu, a lovely name. Cang means dark green or blue and Wu is the beautiful Wutong tree that lines the streets of many south China cities.

Although an attrtactive city at the junction of two rivers, it is set behind massive levees. The river view is attractive, but can only be viewed from the top of the levees. Eating at a roadside restaurant by the river front on a warm evening is quite claustrophobic because all one sees is the back side of the massive concrete levees.

Although far inland from the South China Sea, Wuzhou is, and always has been, an important port city, both for access to the ocean and as a river port. Three large rivers meet at Wuzhou, the 桂 Gui, 潯 Xun and 西 Xi. The Xun flows into the Gui just above Wuzhou and the Gui in turn flows into the Xi at Wuzhou splitting the city if Wuzhou in two. The Xi then flows eastwards connecting to the 珠江 Pearl River which empties into the ocean. These rivers are all navigatable.

Back in the Qin and Han, 200 years before the birth of Christ, Wuzhou was an important trading and military port. It's rivers were used over 2,000 years ago by the Han general Ma Yuan in his campaign to subjugate Vietnam. In 1897 the British imperialists set up steamer services from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, and then up the Xijiang and 邕江 Yongjiang Rivers to Nanning City in the center of Guangxi Province.

The first xian (county) administration was established here in the 1st century BC under the name of Kuang-hsin. This name was changed to Cangwu in 589, and the county retained that name until 1946, when it became a municipality under the name of Wuzhou, the name of the prefectural government first set up under the Tang dynasty (618–907). It continued as a superior prefecture ( fu ), Wuzhou, under the Ming (1368–1644) and Ching (1644–1911/12) dynasties. At this time the county seat of Cangwu was transferred to Lung-yü on the southern bank of the Xi River and that town was thereafter called Cangwu. (From this it seems that the original city during the Han Dynasty was at a different location, where we don't know?)

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